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Plays involving the Supernatural

Some of these plays are quite frightening - you have been warned..........others are heartwarming, sad, peculiar, thought-provoking.... anyway, this is my selection of a few favourite plays of the supernatural..........ND

PUSSYCAT, PUSSYCAT .... c1954
Strange tale about a road accident, repeated by NBC in their "Showcase" series in 1954; produced by David H Godfrey for the BBC. 30m.

*THE MAN IN THE MIRROR....1961
Early American play in a series of about 6 entitled "Macabre" ...30m. A man suffers a serious road traffic accident. But something odd happens as he lays dying. A re-working of the Faust legend. I last listened to this on a hot summer's day a couple of years ago - it still gives me the creeps.

*THE MIDNIGHT HORSEMAN....1961
Another play in the "Macabre" series - an old oil painting has hidden powers. In spite of the lack of technical polish, this production is eerie and unsettling.

*EVENTS AT BLACK TOR....1968
A frightening, atmospheric serial, 6 x 30 min, with supernatural overtones. Directed by Alan Melville; written by Roy Clarke, better known for his television series "Last of the Summer Wine".

*THE DARKENED SCHOOLROOM....c1970
by T.D.Webster. A rather sad ghost story, 90m.

JONAS....1975
By J.C.W.Brook; produced by Ian Cotterell : R4 17-Feb-1975...with Julian Holloway, Anna Cropper, John Rye, Prunella Scales, Carole Boyd, David March. Two couples innocently play with a ouija board and find themselves drawn into an unnerving relationship with Jonas, who has been dead for nearly a hundred years.

THE MISSING PIECE...1976
Unsettling tale by J.C.W.Brook starring Jack May. A group of ageing mystics seek out a young child to recover the powers they have lost...

THE DOPPELGANGER....1977
By J.C.W.Brook; music by Paddy Kingsland & B.B.C. Radiophonic Workshop. Producer: Ian Cotterell......... Adam & Jane are on a make-or-break second honeymoon; but at Oxford station, Adam sees his possibly dead mother & then at the hotel he meets Beth, a 25 year old girl with the mind of a child of seven, who looks like Jane....."a doppelganger is your other self - your dark brother of myth, who wishes to take your place in this world..." ... R4 1-Jan-1977. With Elizabeth Lindsay, Penelope Lee, Nigel Anthony, Emily Richard, Mary Wimbush, Jack May, Geoffrey Collins.

*THE HEX....1981
by Gregory Evans -based on M.R.James "Casting the Runes", broadcast 2 Jan 81. 50m; with Conrad Philips. An excellent tale of suspense. The scene on the train is superbly done.

*DEADLY DEVELOPMENTS....1984
From the Canadian (CBC) series "Nightfall". The production is similar in style to "Macabre", and the plot concerns a camera - with deadly properties.

*THE SPIRIT OF THE HOUSE....1988
A very fine ghost story by Michael Robson, broadcast as an afternoon play. With Bernard Brown, Sheila Grant, Norman Bird, David Goodland, Carole Boyd, Alan Dudley; dir. Gerry Jones.

*ANGELS AT PARTRIDGE COTTAGE....1988
By Lucy Gannon. A mixture of love story and ghost story; a good tale to hear in the run-up to Christmas; broadcast 23 Dec 88. With Hedli Niklaus, Ellie Haddington, Roger Hume, John Dixon, Ken Cumberlidge, Bernadette Windsor. Directed by Philip Martin.

ARRIVED SAFE, WRITING LATER....1989
By Stephen Dunstone; R4, 30/12/89, 75min....... Radio Times said ...."A writer who finds two postcards from the same woman decides to investigate her for his next novel." But the plot of "Arrived Safe, Writing Later" isn't really the point - this is a closely-written play about coincidence, life and the nature of time. .....ND

*THE EXORCISM....1992
By Don Taylor. A group of friends become trapped in an isolated cattage at Christmas....but it slowly dawns on them that something odd has happened.

*THE LINTEL....1992
By Albert Welling. R4, 24 Dec 1992. A ghost story, but a rather cosy one - just right for Christmas. 90m.

*LIGHTBULBS....1995
Supernatural play by Alex Jones. R4, 21 Nov 95. 30m. With David Holt, Jilly Mears, Terry Molloy, Lorna Laidlaw, Joyce Gibbs, Sally Ormond, Richard Kernow, Mia Busby. Music composed by Alex Jones; play directed at Pebble Mill by Sue Wilson.

*THE BOOK OF SHADOWS....1995
by Scott Cherry. Possibly the best tale of the supernatural I have heard on the radio [the other contender is The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral, by Robert Westall (q.v)]. It is stunning; frightening, terrific. Journalist Ellie Rogers is sent to Norfolk to investigate rumours of witchcraft. She witnesses some terrifying events. R4, 1430, 28 Oct 95.

THE DEVIL'S KISS....1996
R4, 21/10/96, 90min. By Stephen Dunstone. Set in the late 1300s somewhere in Yorkshire, this is a frightening tale involving superstition and the devil. Villagers are set a near impossible task by the local squire and are subsequently approached by a mysterious stranger to help them carry it out. The help comes at a high price. The opening scene of this story is almost unsurpassable....a group of men are drinking in an inn, and one of them has a story to tell. He reaches in his bag, and pulls out a lump of wood which he puts on the table. It it obviously old, sawn from a long beam, and it contains a wooden peg, driven in hard with a hammer. The man says that behind the peg, something frightful is trapped. His story reveals what it is, and how it got there. With Paul Copley, Michael Cochrane, Christian Rodska, Carole Boyd, Rachel Atkins, Keith Drinkel. Based on an old Swiss tale.

More about this on the Stephen Dunstone page

*THE STONES OF MUNCASTER CATHEDRAL....1996
A supernatural thriller by Robert Westall, narrated by the steeplejack who is hired to restore part of the cathedral. He feels uneasy each time he works on one of the towers....see also the ROBERT WESTALL page for further examples of his work.

*THE AFFAIR AT GROVER STATION....1997
A ghost story based on a short story by Willa Cather, dramatised by Jonathan Holloway. Terrapin Rodgers recounts to Will Carter the riddle of his friend's death. Carter becomes involved, and terrified. Stars Kerry Shale, Nancy Crane, Stuart Milligan. Dir. David Hunter.

*THE MAGIC COTTAGE....1998
by James Herbert. A tale of terror from Britains's top horror writer, dramatised by Gregory Evans. "The Granary" is the idyllic home....but who is the figure lurking in the woods? R4, late night theatre, 17 Jan 98.

The Honeybourne Tapes....2003
-by Michael Butt - involves a hypnotherapist sending a young lady into a trance...but a figure from two hundred years ago emerges from her subconscious. There is a good sub-plot, too, and a terrific twist at the end.

*NO CONFERRING....2003
By Jonathan Holloway....R4,11 pm, 25 Dec 03. A chiller for Christmas...a "bonding" week in an isolated moorland cottage for participants in "University Challange", 1983. It goes horribly wrong. With Damian Lynch, Lydia Leonard, Kenny Blyth, Peter Darney, Jaimi Barbakoff; Bamber Gascoigne and Jeremy Paxman star as themselves. Directed by David Hunter.....................at the end, it actually raised the hairs on the back of my neck. .....(from an article by Paul Donovan, Times, Dec 04)

Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

Asterisked plays known to exist in VRPCC collections

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